General Question

Ron_C's avatar

Why should I care what happens in Afghanistan?

Asked by Ron_C (14465points) June 22nd, 2011

We spend $10 billion a month, thousands of our soldiers have been killed, even more have been wounded and most of the people in the country want us to leave. The cling to tribal ways, reject democracy, and harbor bat shit crazy religious fanatics. As far as I can see, the only reason to stay in the country is to provide security for a oil pipe line. Other than that they country is useless and the people don’t want democracy.

I think we should declare victory because we saved them from the Taliban nut cases, pack up our weapons and leave. I frankly don’t care if they revert to their stone age ways but think that we should offer immigration to the advanced citizens who want to experience democracy. Other than that, we have no reason or goal for this brutal, backward, uncivilized waste of space.

If we want to spend $10 billion a month, then spend it on the war criminals, and mercenaries that took advantage of all of that American money. It makes no sense to develop that wasteland and lay off teachers and raise college tuition in this country.

The almost country of Afghanistan bankrupted the USSR and is doing the same to us. Why can’t we learn from history and stop sacrificing American youth to save those degenerate people.

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39 Answers

dannyc's avatar

You should care enough to make sure you get out of there and make your voice heard as your politicians seem to think it was a necessary exercise. Thus if nobody cares, you will only empower those who speak on your behalf to do whatever they want.

ETpro's avatar

Aside from my empathy for the suffering of an impoverished people, and particularly for the oppressed women there, I don’t care what happens in Afghanistan. I do care what happens in Lower Manhattan, or the Pentagon. After squandering 10 years of blood and treasure there, I will be pretty pissed if we end up walkiing away having accomplished nothing save pissing more and more Afghans off at America, and they welcome in al Qaeda to blow up 3,000 more Americans or worse, dirty bomb a major city or two.

Judi's avatar

If we wouldn’t have abandoned Afganastan after the Soviet invasion, Bin Laden never would have gained a foothold there.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro We blew up the Taliban, that was the original and only real goal. Everything else was just propaganda to further the fortune of friends of the administration. It is a real shame that our troops were used so wantonly but that doesn’t change the facts. They died for no reason at all and no one was left in that wasteland.

If al Qaeda becomes a threat, we just blow them up again. I am sorry that all of those soldiers died for nothing and the people responsible should pay. The people responsible for those death are not in Afghanistan, they’re in the U.S. and living on government pensions.

ETpro's avatar

@Ron_C We did not blow up the Taliban. Mullah Omar and the senior Taliban leaders all escaped from Tora Bora along with the al Qaeda leaders. They slipped into relatively safe haven in the Tribal Regions of Pakistan. The Taliban is still alive and well. The Taliban is who has been killing our soldiers in Afghanistan. The death toll has been ramping up, not down. So if we blew them up, they have turned into zombies.

Qingu's avatar

Because “those degenerate people” live in a country that we are in no small part responsible for largely destroying, and they are human beings too.

And the ones who are actually friendly to us, who have some semblance of democracy and respecting women’s rights, will probably be assassinated en masse by the Taliban if we leave a political vacuum like we did in the 80’s.

As for “blowing up the Taliban,” they are an indigenous guerilla force that heavily recruits from a population that basically identifies as the Taliban. Wars simply don’t work like that anymore, where you win by blowing up an enemy force until their leaders wave the white flag.

Qingu's avatar

Finally, Afghanistan did not bankrupt the USSR. And whatever damage they did inflict on the USSR they did in large part because we supplied them with weapons.

Ron_C's avatar

@ETpro it doesn’t matter who we kill there because some other tribesman decides to avenge the death of his leader or comrade. The only way to stop them from killing our soldiers is to kill all of them and their relatives and acquaintances. I think that is called genocide. If there is genocide in that part of the world, they should do it to themselves, we should not be involved.

By the way this is no longer a war, it is an occupation.

Brian1946's avatar

Since I read that Afghanistan is the world’s most dangerous country for women, the only extemporaneous concern I have in that area is for any female unfortunate enough to live there.

I’d like to end US military involvement there, with the exception of providing whatever safe escort the US and other nations can provide, for however many females they can accommodate in the process.

faye's avatar

Funny, Canada is staying, and from what I hear taking on a larger role. Because they are people of the world, thay should be aided just as we would want. I say they should all be relocated, leave the Taliban with no one to bully. ?degenerate?

Qingu's avatar

Look, I think the idea of evacuating pro-democracy Afghans, or simply stealing all the country’s women away in the middle of the night… these are noble ideas. But they’re also poorly thought out ideas that would never work, that would certainly never be politically viable, and thus do nothing to actually solve the problems that both the US and Afghanistan are in.

How do you get out of Afghanistan without risking a violent civil war in the ensuing power vacuum? Or if that’s a risk you’re willing to take, to what extent does that mean their blood is on our hands?

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Now that the US has their 150lb of flesh in the death of Bin Laden there is really no reason to stay. It can be seen as the cost of vengeance was 10 Billion dollars; so I guess Bin Laden was the 10 Billion Dollar man.

Seeing that Al Qaeda is financially crippling the US with out any help from the Soviets, as we did them by supporting the Mujahedeen, so it seem on the surface smart to leave. What that 10 billion could have done here. So I guess Bin Laden robbed future generations here de factoly.

There is suppose to be great wealth in un-mined or exploited mineral resources there, we might want to stick around to knee hooks into that—. Nothing like tapping the wealth of some other nation to help ourselves. Wait, it will end up with the rich supposing, and will help the average John Q hardly any.

The main reason to stay is not because we care about them, they are merely pawns anyhow. The only good they are is a place to set up a puppet government that will be a yes man to whatever the US want to do in the region to “democratize” it. The reason to stay is just for appearances, we can’t appear to have been ran out of there even after we have gotten our vengeance. The de facto logical thing is to stay the next 8, 12, or 15yrs we can’t have spent all that money to look like losers. Even if you can’t win you can’t quit. If we have to mortgage the next 5 generations to win, that we must do for we cannot look like Willy Lump Lump especially not to a bunch of near primitive camel herders. We are America with the world’s most advance military arsenal. Even if we have to yank the college dream from every kid growing up by taking their college aid and throwing it into the war effort, there is still the military for them; who needs to be an engineer? We can’t leave until we can do so without looking like we lost, even if it take another 2 decades.

I need some water, that sarcasm was even too dry for me.

jasper1890's avatar

Just in too deep financially. After investing trillions in this conflict, its very difficult to simply pull out. However i must say i fully agree with your statement.

Bagardbilla's avatar

It’s precisely because of the fact that the collective ‘We’ didn’t care what ‘Our Beloved Leaders’ were doing in Afghanistan from late 70’s through most of the 80’s that made it necessary that we get involved there once again!
One cannot be fooled without ones’ own consent.
Fool me once shame on you! Fool me twice, shame on me!

tedd's avatar

I’m glad we’re pulling out, but you’re naive if you think the well being of Afghanistan isn’t critically important to US security.

For one thing they’re on the border with Pakistan and the “crazies” in Afghanistan have a strong block of supporters in Pakistan who would like nothing better than too overthrow the current Pakistani regime. Afghanistan would provide a great base of operations for such an overthrow…. can you imagine a Pakistan with leaders like the Taliban….. armed with nuclear weapons (Pakistan has them as they’re not part of the non-proliferation treaty)?

For another thing, if we pack up all those guys just cuz now and the country collapses into civil war, what was all that money and loss of American life for? I would be willing to bet the vast majority of the troops would be pissed if we just gave up when we are theoretically so close. If the presidents drawdown works, and the transition to Afghan troops is orderly and they can handle their own defense….. then we will have accomplished our goal…. and more than that a great thing.

And having talked to multiple guys who have been deployed over to Afghanistan, I’ve heard your average Afghani is quite happy with the US helping them, even if there have been monumental stumbling blocks and their own government is still riddled with corruption. If this “experiment” works, we’ll have another ally in the world, and in a part of the world where we could definitely use a few.

I understand the strong want to be done of it all. But lets not spite 10 years of work just to be done a little faster.

Qingu's avatar

@tedd, the issue with Pakistan runs both ways. It’s not just that militants in Afghanistan threaten Pakistan’s stability; the ISI (Pak’s intelligence) in many ways is a puppeteer for the Afghan Taliban.

Now, some of the militant elements in Afghanistan and Pakistan are monsters that have grown out of the ISI’s controls. But fostering insane Islamic terrorists has long been a part of Pakistan’s “strategy in depth”—they are locked in a cold war with India (which has been much hotter than our cold war with Russia), they are completely overmatched militarily, and they see terrorist groups as their potential advantage should a conflict ever flare up.

I don’t bring this up to make any sort of argument about what needs to be done, just to point out that the situation is extraordinarily complicated. I do think that solving the cold war between India and Pakistan will go a long ways towards helping the Pakistan government fully turn against the Taliban and AQ.

tedd's avatar

@Qingu Oh I agree completely, its super super complicated. I guess my point would just be, we don’t need to make it any messier by just pulling out and leaving Afghanistan to the wolves. Obviously we need to start pulling out, but it should be done in a manner that gives them a fighting chance at not descending into Civil War. Whether we like it or not, we put that country in this position…. the Taliban may not be that great, but they were in control before we strolled in…. we shouldn’t leave the country in a civil war that could last for years.

Qingu's avatar

I agree.

As much as I dislike Obama’s tendency to triangulate and be a “centrist,” I think rash measures in Afghanistan could unravel an already terrible situation completely. We invaded that country, destroyed quite a bit of it, and have occupied it for ten years. For all the mismanagement over ten years, we are still responsible for what happens to these people.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Like others mention, strategically and militarily yes in order to watch/track/divert whatever extremists who have access to WOMD.

As far as the civilians go, I’ve worked alongside Afghans and Russians of several generations and the Russian occupation/attempt at civilization was a popular topic. It came down to the Russians believing they could bring a 17th century tribal based people into the 20th century when the 17th century tribal based peoples were very proud to retain their ways and saw “civilizing” as a breakdown of order, their idea of communal peace and values systems. What the women of that country want is at the bottom of everyone’s list, the Russians didn’t really care and I doubt the Americans do either.

jasper1890's avatar

Remember how it turned out training the vietnamese soldiers….

When the allied forces leave, i cannot see how conflict can be prevented. Its a very delecate situation. Fascinated by the answers given guys, learning alot!

tedd's avatar

@jasper1890 True it didn’t work out well in Vietnam, but Afghanistan is honestly a very different animal. For one thing the Taliban don’t have another superpower backing them like the Vietcong did. For another thing there aren’t nearly as many of them and they don’t have nearly the foot hold/success the Vietcong had. Its still definitely a very delicate situation, but I don’t think its directly equatable to Vietnam (though some lessons of Vietnam should definitely be remembered).

mattbrowne's avatar

Why should you care what happens to the people in the apartment above and below you?
Why should you care what happens in your street?
Why should you care what happens in your town?
Why should you care what happens in your county?
Why should you care what happens in your state?
Why should you care what happens in your country?
Why should you care what happens in your neighboring countries?
Why should you care what happens on your continent?
Why should you care what happens in countries on other continents?

We should care because we are all interconnected. The future of other people influences our own future.

Ron_C's avatar

To @mattbrowne and all the others that suggest that we stay in Afghanistan: I believe that we have proved our point, if you assist people with damaging the U.S., there is a horrible price to pay. That being said, we cannot impose democracy on a country that isn’t even a real country I would offer asylum to any woman that wanted to be free from oppression and slavery and keep a residual force to escort them to a safe haven. Other than that, as long is the “country” is a loose affiliation of fraternal tribal leaders, we cannot teach them anything. I believe when they lose enough women and get tired of doing eachother, they’ll come around to a more reasonable frame of mind. The point is that we can wait, and I don’t care if they implode and the males kill eachother. The male leadership is stuck in 14th century barbarism and no amount of warfare will bring them to the 21st century. They need to decide for themselves. The best we can do is pledge to help if they ask (beg) for it. Keep a small contingent of U.S, troops in a fortified bunker if desired but bring everyone else home where they are needed to build our own country out of its current path towards the dark ages. We also have to admit to our soldiers that they have been duped into this situation and show that we are sorry by giving them generous G.I. benefits as reparations. The only people we owe, in the middle east are our soldiers for using them badly.

Of course I would also have war crimes trials for the perpetrators and Paramilitary groups that instigated and sustained this horrendous tragedy.

I thought that after Vietnam, we couldn’t do any worse thing; I am proved wrong.

Qingu's avatar

Afghanistan is so much better than Vietnam, both in terms of the legitimacy of our actions and the amount of people killed pointlessly.

Iraq is also better than Vietnam.

Ron_C's avatar

In what way are they better @Qingu ? That less that 50 thousand Americans died? Or that only a million r so Middle-easterners died? How about that 400 thousand walking wounded American soldiers lived because of advances in medicine?

Maybe it is a vindication of Bush and company for their kill and conquer imperialism policies? Fankly, I can’t see the improvement.

tedd's avatar

@Ron_C I think they’re better in that we’re not fighting a government that most of the people want in place. We overthrew a horrible tyrant (whether or not he was actively pursuing WMD’s or committing genocide, Saddam killed hundreds of thousands of his own people in his time), and we’re keeping the highly oppressive Taliban from coming to power.

The Vietcong were simply people who wanted to switch to communism. We may not like communism but when the vast majority of their people wanted it we backed a corrupt South Vietnamese government and caused hundreds of thousands (if not millions) of deaths. All in the name of stopping communism.

jasper1890's avatar

A fantastic point RON_C.

All because we didnt like the way they chose to run their country, we entered a corrupt government and murdered millions.

Qingu's avatar

@Ron_C, in addition to what @tedd said, there are several other reasons:

• The North Vietnamese did not give shelter to a terrorist organization that murdered 3,000 of our citizens.

• The Taliban did not enjoy anywhere near the popular support that the Viet Cong/North Vietnamese. Nor did our enemy in Vietnam wage campaigns of ethnic cleansing against religious minorities in Vietnam.

• The ideology of the communists in Vietnam is nowhere near as repugnant as the ideology of the Taliban. I’m sure you don’t need me to go into details.

• There is no military draft for Afghanistan.

• You have completely exaggerated the civilian deaths of the war (and by the way, Afghans are not middle easterners). In Afghanistan, 14,000 – 34,000 civilians have been killed. In Vietnam, possibly 3 million civilians were killed. No civilian death is ever justified, but we are talking about a difference of several orders of magnitude. (The Iraq War is worse—up to 150,000 dead civilians—but still nowhere near the scale of Vietnam).

• The rules of engagement in Afghanistan, even during Bush’s insane mismanagement of the war, were far better than the ROE in Vietnam. In 2001, our forces were on the cusp of capturing bin Laden at Tora Bora. We should have, and the fact that we didn’t was a huge failure. But we also didn’t carpet bomb the region, like some military officials were recommending. Carpet-bombing was extremely common in Vietnam; so was the use of DDT and napalm. In general, our ROE in Vietnam allowed indiscrimate slaughter; even a cursory examination of the WikiLeaks Afghan files shows that our soldiers there are much more concerned with preventing unnecessary civilian deaths. And Obama, McChrystal, and Petraeus deserve credit for further constraining our use of airstrikes in civilian areas and other lethal uses of force; today Taliban account for 85% of civilian deaths in Afghanistan.

• I don’t have a problem with “imperialism” in an abstract sense. I would be fine with a legitimate world police. I think the state of affairs in human society is a set of overlapping power structures, some more abusive than others. The “empire” is simply the largest Russian nesting doll of such power structures, and if the empire is less abusive than smaller “dolls,” then I have no problem with the empire preventing abuse. Of course, the US imperialism (like past instances of imperialism) is often abusive, is often poorly or callously deployed, etc. But in terms of Afghanistan; we are talking about a country that is a failed state, a nightmare for more than half the population living there (women, religious minorities), that is basically in a state of perpetual war—in no small part because of the US’s footprint there during the Cold War. If an “empire” can help stabilize this region, by essentially acting more like “police” and less like carpet-bombing military forces, I have no problem with that.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – I didn’t say Western troops should stay in Afghanistan forever. I’m saying that we should care about the people in Afghanistan. In Darfur. In Libya. In Syria. In China. As we care for people in the poor areas of Detroit or Cleveland or Naples or Minsk.

We can’t solve all problems at once. We can’t take on every dictator in the world at the same time. But we can at least care.

I resent an attitude like why should we care what happens in Afghanistan. That’s a terribly selfish attitude.

Response moderated (Writing Standards)
ETpro's avatar

@mattbrowne I fully agree we should care, and I do. But if the majority of Afghans want us out of their country, we may have to care about that at some point as well.

mattbrowne's avatar

@ETpro – Absolutely. As long as the majority of Afghans keep voting for governments that keep terrorism in check. We can never again tolerate governments that condone the operation of terrorist camps.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu from your first 4 points, I infer that you think that we should attack and occupy any country whose philosophy and draft policy that we find disagreeable. I totally reject that idea.

When I stated the deaths, I included the deaths in Iraq which is an outgrowth of the U.S. war policy. I am pretty sure that Afghanistan is part of the middle east.

I agree that the rules of engagement were somewhat better than those in Vietnam but the results were similar. More G.I.‘s died than were necessary and the civilians were caught in the crossfire, just like Vietnam. I was in Vietnam and the ROE in Vietnam and Afghanistan were alarmingly similar. The only difference I could see were that the military phraseology has been refined. Same shit, different day.

Further, our military and State Department policy has been imperialist since the end of WW2. The terms are different but the results are the same. The U.S. is primarily concerned with controlling resources, denying them to our competitors, and any dictator is good as long as he follows our orders. When they fail to follow them they are deposed and usually exterminated unless we owe them money like we owe Saudi Arabia.

There was some justification for going to Afghanistan and blowing up the Taliban because of their support of international criminal terrorists. There is NO justification for staying. It seems pretty simple, leave and let the country figure out if it wants to be a country or just a group of tribes. It the Taliban come back and form the same type of terrorist support, we blow them up again. Otherwise, we leave them alone. If international corporations want to build a pipeline through the country, they can hire their own security forces. We are not the world’s police or enforcers for the exploiters of third world countries. When we perform that function, we are ALWAYS WRONG.

We should let them have their own civil wars and deal with the winners. Further, if we develop a reasonable energy policy and get away from foreign oil, what they do becomes unimportant. Our military should only be used to protect our country and countries with which we form treaties and alliances, not nation building.

Qingu's avatar

Your inference is without cause. I don’t think the absence or presence of a draft has anything to do with the moral justification for invading any country.

There have not been 3 million deaths in Iraq as an outgrowth of our war policy. And if we count that broadly than I’m sure Vietnam is far worse still.

I don’t agree the results were “similar.” Two orders of magnitude in difference is not “similar.”

The nature of US imperialism seems outside the scope of this discussion, particularly Afghanistan, which has no useful resources.

As far as there being “NO” justification for staying: blowing the shit out of a country means, I think, that we have a moral responsibility to ensure it does not become a chaotic civil war. You seem to agree. You just said that we bear responsibility for all of the deaths in Iraq, not just those directly killed by our troops. By the same logic, we are morally culpable for everyone in Afghanistan who dies as a result of the political instability our “blowing up the Taliban” has brought.

And I disagree we are “ALWAYS WRONG” in playing World Police. NATO’s attacks on Serbia were justified, for example.

I don’t disagree with developing a reasonable energy policy and I don’t disagree with our callous and immoral history of imperialism and supporting dictators. But I think there are justified uses of military forces outside the scope of direct self-defense; and if we do not occupy the space of “world hegemon,” somebody else would.

Ron_C's avatar

@Qingu Look, we dismantled the repressive Taliban regime, isn’t that payment enough? The way I see it, we gave them breathing room to determine the type of government or no government they want. If they can’t make the decision in 10 years, that’s not our fault. If we had left in 2 years, we would have had their gratitude. Occupying the country for 10 years only causes disdain.

Other than the opium market the country has no resources. The real reason the country is important is for use as a pipeline for the oil companies to save shipping costs; that’s why we are still there. Again, I see no reason to use or misuse our military as agents for international oil. It is unjust, wrong, and an abuse of honest ambitious young people.

By the way don’t forget the more than 400,000 soldiers wounded, many with severe brain damage and handicapped beyond repair. The only reason the death toll isn’t as high as the 50k in Vietnam is because of the improvements in government provided medical care.

The irony is that the same people that started and sustained the war want to offload the responsibility to care for the wounded by the unjust and irresponsible wars WE STARTED.

By the way, as long as I have been aware of international affairs, the State Department has been our own worst enemy. They foul everything from diplomacy to trade agreements. War is a result of failed diplomacy and the State Department fails a lot.

Qingu's avatar

@Ron_C, let’s say we did what you think we should have done: go in with airstrikes, dismantled the Taliban, and then left Afghanistan alone to figure itself out. If the country then erupts into a civil war, would we be responsible for the people who die in it?

I don’t really get the oil pipeline conspiracy theory. Oil pipeline to where, and from where?

Can you cite 400,000 wounded? As far as I know that is significantly more people than we acutally have over there. Wikipedia says 50,000 coalition forces have been wounded in Iraq, not 400,000.

Judi's avatar

Some threads start sounding like the grown-ups on a Peanuts cartoon.

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